APPLYING AGNAYAH, COMMITMENT TO KNOWLEDGE, TO BUSINESS

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Commitment to knowledge is the goal of mankind. This is the ideal which has been placed before us by the eastern philosophy. Spiritual knowledge is the only thing that can destroy our miseries forever. It is only with the knowledge of the spirit that the faculty of want is annihilated forever. To reinforce this point, we will look at what different religions have to say about "Agnayah".

VIEWS OF DIFFERENT RELIGIONS

HINDUISM

Vedanta, a philosophy based on the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, describes two types of knowledge: external knowledge and inner knowledge. External knowledge relates to the materialistic world and our external realities, which is seen as ever changing illusions. Inner knowledge's is obtained through spiritual growth. Both are considered valuable in their own sphere, although inner knowledge is considered the highest.

Also, teachers are highly respected and many children begin the school day by praying to Sarasvati, goddess of speech and learning.

JAINISM

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Provides the means for attaining moksha from the cycle of birth and death with the help of three gems

Right perception

Right knowledge

Right conduct

SIKHISM

Sikhism supports and celebrates the gathering of experience, knowledge and wisdom and their appliance. Sikhs recognize that this is a complex and difficult procedure, but an indispensable one in the achievement of harmony and unification with God and attuned with the writings and teachings of the Gurus.

JUDAISM

In Judaism, one cannot be dedicated to the Jewish faith and ignorant. It is for this reason that knowledge is seen with extreme importance in Judaism. Knowledge should lead to action and not remain solely in the realm of theory.

While great importance is placed on knowledge of the Torah, Judaism teaches that those who take study seriously will study other sacred texts including the Bible, the Prophets, the Scriptures and the Talmud.

APPLICATION AT ORGANIZATIONAL AND GLOBAL LEVEL

Following the principle of 'AGNAYAH' has become very relevant in today's fast changing and competitive world. The amount of knowledge is huge and the rate of change has become very fast. Thus, the organizations have to keep pace with it otherwise they can no longer compete in the market. Due to globalization, the importance of knowledge is also being recognized by different nations the world over. A lot of countries have made primary education compulsory and free for the upliftment of the society. Examples:-

Commitment to knowledge as a Nation

Right to Education Act - Indian Parliament has enacted a legislation making free and compulsory education a Right of every child in the age group 6-14 years. This legislation came into force from 1st April, 2010. Thus, in line with the goal of nation building, India has been committed to providing free and compulsory education to all children.

UNICEF promotes girls' education - ensuring that they complete primary education as a minimum - because it benefits all children, both girls and boys. Girls who are educated grow up to become better thinkers, better citizens, and better parents to their own children.

A few organizations which have displayed the below stated principle are mentioned as examples:-

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Hewlett Packard is the first IT Company in history to report revenues exceeding $100 billion and one of the reasons for this achievement is their knowledge repositories. Example - @hp Employee Portal provides knowledge to employees so that they can perform work/ transactions. This type of portal is called B2E (business to employee). An extensive effort to develop a high level content architecture for all of Hewlett - Packard knowledge was the prerequisite for developing this portal.

GM has developed a "Knowledge Network," a structured system for organizing decision making and problem solving techniques. GM is experimenting with a variety of technologies, including such things as Intraspect, Knowledge Technologies and Lotus Notes that facilitate the Knowledge Network or other knowledge sharing initiatives.

Xerox' Eureka initiative, which encourages and enables the company's customer service engineers to archive and share their collective knowledge has helped the company to save $6 million to $8 million per year and 5% cost saving in engineer's time.

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Daimler Chrysler created 'Tech Clubs', Engineering Book of Knowledge (EBOK) and Chrysler Institute of Engineering for increasing the knowledge of its employees. As a result of the above mentioned initiatives, the time-to-market for new models was cut by a factor greater than two (from 60 months to 29 months) and the time needed for training new engineers was cut in half. The Engineering Book of Knowledge (EBOK) is Chrysler's intranet supporting a knowledge repository of process best practices and technical know-how to be shared and maintained.

Mckinsey has created 15 virtual Centers of Competence built around existing areas of functional expertise like marketing, change management and systems. The role of these centers is to help develop consultants and to ensure the continued renewal of the firm's intellectual resources. Some of the initiatives which have been launched by McKinsey to capture the knowledge are:-

Staff papers

Knowledge Management Project

Practice Development Network

But a lot of organizations have failed to change with the environment because they thought that once they have achieved success, they don't have to work anymore to maintain it. The companies failed to understand that acquiring knowledge is a continuous process and one has to constantly update it otherwise the current capabilities may become obsolete in a few years. A few examples are mentioned below when the organizations failed to adapt to the latest technologies because of lack of commitment to knowledge.

Hindustan Motors was the largest car manufacturer in India before the rise of Maruti Udyog Limited. One of the original three car manufacturers in India, founded in 1942 by Mr. B.M. Birla, it was a leader in car sales until the 1980s, when the industry was opened up from protection. As the smaller car manufacturers from Japan started to enter the Indian market, Hindustan Motors refused to acknowledge the competition offered by them. The company believed that it knew the Indian market better than anyone else and no one could reduce their market share. But the Japanese car manufacturers came up with stylish, fuel efficient and durable cars as their technology was much more superior to Hindustan Motors. But HM didn't spend any money on Research & Development (R&D) and the company failed to increase its knowledge repository. Slowly and gradually, the company started going into oblivion as its sales kept on decreasing. Today, Maruti Udyog Limited is the market leader in India whereas HM is languishing somewhere at the bottom. This shows that if Hindustan Motors had committed themselves to increasing their knowledge with the changing environment, they would have been in a much better position at this point of time.

HMT enjoyed 71 percent of the market share in the sales of mechanical watches and 55.22 percent of the market share of the total watch production in organized sector in 1992. But today they have lost significant market share to TITAN as HMT didn't embrace the new quartz technology to a great extent and suffered because of their adherence to mechanical watches. Also, the company paid very little attention to the aesthetics and packaging of watches. When the competitors were churning out innovative products with latest technology, features and design, HMT was still grappling with its basic design models. The company gave less emphasis on product Research & Development (R&D) and had very less designs as compared to its competitors. If HMT had kept itself up to date with the latest technologies and customer preferences, it would have been one of the leading watch companies in India.

APPLICATION AT PERSONAL LEVEL

Individuals have to develop the commitment to knowledge to succeed in today's competitive world where the technologies and processes change in a matter of days. The world economy has become more knowledge centric than ever before and knowledge is the biggest tool which can help us grow faster. Gone are the days when physical strength used to matter more than the intellectual capabilities. We are in the digital age where knowledge is the source of power. We can take the illustration of the placements in XLRI itself. All the companies and recruiters have a minimum cut off for the CQPI and candidates below that minimum level have some difficulty in getting their desired company and role. On the other hand, students whose CQPI is above 6.0 tend to get a lot of shortlists and are preferred by recruiters. Especially consultants like Mercer, Ernst & Young only want candidates who have a minimum CQPI of 6.0 at XLRI. The above example shows that knowledge plays a very important part in one's life.

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Commitment to knowledge can help us bridge the gaps between the known and the unknown; it is a source of personal and professional development and it is making the world a better place to live in. The most important discoveries in the history of mankind have taken place because of the commitment of man to gain knowledge and apply it for the betterment of people. Right from the invention of airplanes to the medicines developed for curing deadly diseases, developing 'Google' and inventing mobile phones; all these miracles have been possible because someone was tirelessly working to gain knowledge about how to make the systems and processes better.MPj04330570000[1].jpg

To illustrate the above points, I would like to give examples of a few Indian individuals whose commitment to knowledge has earned them accolades the world over and all of us can learn a few lessons from them. They have exemplified the fact that knowledge is power.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was an Indian philosopher and statesman who was one of India's most influential scholars of comparative religion and philosophy. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature for five consecutive years from 1933-1937, although he did not win. Such was his dedication to learning that his birthday is celebrated in India as Teacher's Day on 5 September.

Pranav Mistry has attracted global attention as one of the inventors of 'Sixth Sense' technology. He is a research assistant and a PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sixth Sense was awarded the 2009 Invention Award by Popular Science and he also won the Young Innovator Award TR35 by Technology Review. Due to his undying devotion to knowledge, he has been called "one of ten, best inventors in the world right now". Most of the students at XLRI came to know about him through TED talks. His immense grasp on the subject and his futuristic vision has impressed one and all and has reinforced India's position as a knowledge powerhouse.

Mr. Manmohan Singh is an epitome of knowledge and his story shows us the power of learning and education. He is a graduate of Panjab University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford. Due to his lifelong commitment to gaining knowledge and education, he has held key positions like Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Finance, Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission, Governor of the Reserve Bank and most notably the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world. He is the only Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. He is seen as a candidate who is fully capable of taking India on the path of rapid growth.

CONCLUSION

Knowledge has become the key strategic advantage for the 21st Century and for every organization that values knowledge it must invest in developing the best plan for identifying, developing and applying the knowledge assets it needs to do well.

It needs to invest in creating and implementing the best knowledge networks, processes, methods, tools and technologies. This will allow them to learn, generate new knowledge, and apply the best knowledge much faster.

Knowledge management is applied today across the world, in all industry sectors, public and private organizations. Most importantly, effective knowledge management is now recognized to be 'the key driver of new knowledge and new ideas' to the innovation process, to novel innovative products, services and solutions.

On an individual level, every person who wishes to successfully take part in the rapidly growing global knowledge market must now consider the growth of their personal knowledge management competencies as an 'indispensable life skill' for the 21st Century.

It has been said numerous times, 'knowledge will radically and fundamentally transform economies'. One thing is completely certain in this quickly changing world.

The best knowledge will always be in demand and so will be the individuals who are committed to it.